Hearing loss

Hearing loss that occurs gradually as you age (presbycusis) is common. About one-third of people in the United States between the ages of 65 and 75 have some degree of hearing loss. For those older than 75, the number of people with some hearing loss is almost 1 in 2.

Doctors believe that heredity and chronic exposure to loud noises are the main factors that contribute to hearing loss over time. Other factors, such as excessive earwax, can temporarily prevent your ears from conducting sounds as well as they should.

You can't reverse hearing loss. However, you don't have to live in a world of muted, less distinct sounds. You and your doctor or hearing specialist can take steps to improve what you hear.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications Prevention

Signs and symptoms of hearing loss may include:

  • Muffling of speech and other sounds
  • Difficulty understanding words, especially against background noise or in a crowd of people
  • Trouble hearing consonants
  • Frequently asking others to speak more slowly, clearly and loudly
  • Needing to turn up the volume of the television or radio
  • Withdrawal from conversations
  • Avoidance of some social settings

When to see a doctor

Talk to your doctor if difficulty hearing is interfering with your daily life. Your hearing may have deteriorated if:

  • You find that it's harder to understand everything that's said in conversation, especially when there's background noise
  • Sounds seem muffled
  • You find yourself having to turn the volume higher when you listen to music, the radio or television

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